Current Events, the Church, and our Children

Sometimes I wonder what we’re doing having kids in today’s world. ISIS, Boko Haram, other terrorists. Our country spiraling down. Natural disasters. Violence in malls and movie theaters.
I want to protect any children we have from being affected by any of that, and I want to protect their hearts from being drawn to it, as I know is possible with the depravity of all human hearts. It’s terrifying whenever I think about it.

But in the midst of all the brokenness, it has been amazing to see the opportunities the church has to help and to see the church begin to step up to help.
Our church has been taking part in weekly protests at Planned Parenthood – and some have had opportunities to talk to those seeking PP’s services, and members also engage in weekly evangelism at a large, nearby park. We recently took food to a hurting neighbor next door, and Ezra has been able to talk and pray with him some. WORLD Magazine reports on a lot of the devastation in the world, but they also highlight many ministries that are helping people all over the world.
Caring for the poor, broken, and needy is not the job of the government, but of the church. Not in the sense of church programs, but in the body of Christ stepping up to the plate and working in the world around us.

As I paired these stories – though they’re not stories, they’re real life – with my struggle as we think about bringing more little sinners into this world, I was reminded of a phrase I heard John Piper say in a clip on birth control a few years ago.

“…Because the kids I’m going to raise are going to lift a million burdens.”

You Christian, you’ve got to believe that bringing kids into the world and being brought up in the Lord makes them burden lifters, not burden adders. They are in the world to lift the world, to save the world, to love the world.

You’re not just adding dead weight to the world when you bring a child up in the kingdom. You’re bringing up lovers of people and servants of the world.”

While what our children become is ultimately in God’s hands and not ours, it is my prayer and desire that our children – however many we have – will be children of change. That they will be men and women that will join with the body of Christ in showing His compassion to the sheep without a shepherd and rescuing those headed for destruction. That they alongside us will bring others to Christ and lift their burdens.
The world around us may keep spiraling down, but rather than cause for throwing up our hands in despair, it is opportunity for us to get in the trenches and come alongside both the hurting and the wicked with the hope we have in Christ.

O church, arise and put your armor on;
Hear the call of Christ our captain;
For now the weak can say that they are strong
In the strength that God has given.
With shield of faith and belt of truth
We’ll stand against the devil’s lies;
An army bold whose battle cry is “Love!”
Reaching out to those in darkness.

Our call to war, to love the captive soul,
But to rage against the captor;
And with the sword that makes the wounded whole
We will fight with faith and valor.
When faced with trials on ev’ry side,
We know the outcome is secure,
And Christ will have the prize for which He died—
An inheritance of nations.

Come, see the cross where love and mercy meet,
As the Son of God is stricken;
Then see His foes lie crushed beneath His feet,
For the Conqueror has risen!
And as the stone is rolled away,
And Christ emerges from the grave,
This vict’ry march continues till the day
Ev’ry eye and heart shall see Him.

So Spirit, come, put strength in ev’ry stride,
Give grace for ev’ry hurdle,
That we may run with faith to win the prize
Of a servant good and faithful.
As saints of old still line the way,
Retelling triumphs of His grace,
We hear their calls and hunger for the day
When, with Christ, we stand in glory.
– O Church Arise, Getty


Thoughts on Psalm 94 in light of ISIS and Abortion

Psalm 94 was written during a time not unlike today: The wicked continue in rampant wickedness, especially towards widows and orphans – be it through ISIS or planned parenthood.
Many things are clear to me from this Psalm:
– the success of the plans of the wicked is nothing new. 3-7.
– just because God does not act as we want Him to (end abortion, obliterate ISIS) does not mean He does not care or He will not judge. 8-11.
– even in the midst of rampant wickedness, the Lord does not abandon His people, and one day justice will be served. 11-15.
– He Is our relief from adversity until the wicked meet their end. 13.
– The job of the righteous in the midst of this is to be a voice. Not to dwell in silence, but to take a stand against evil. 16-17.
– our anxiety should be taken to Him, delighting our souls with His consolations – consolations that are based not in what we feel He is doing at the time when it seems He is idol as the wicked increase, but based in His character and promises and past faithfulness to keep those. 19-23.

I know that but for Christ I am the wicked deserving of judgement. I know that my country is wicked (20) and deserving of judgement. My heart breaks because of ISIS and abortion, and I want justice for those who continue this evil… But even more I pray for them to come and bow before God in repentance and worship Him.
I feel that not far down the road He’s going to reveal Himself mightily, even as He already is as the church steps forward to be a voice about these things.

Further reading on trouble in the Middle East and Abortion:
An Honest Conversation About Abortion
6 Things Post-Abortive Women Should Know Following the Viral Planned Parenthood videos
5 Reasons Why Christians Should Stay in the Middle East
ISIS and the Lonely Young American
ISIS Enshrines a theology of rape (This one an the next are incredibly hard to read. Part of me feels like I shouldn’t read things like this as the mother of a blonde, blue-eyed baby girl. Or as a mother, period. But I can’t not share it, despite the tears that have filled the last half hour. Like the Planned Parenthood videos, it’s something that has to be said, shared, cried about, prayed over a million times. This link specifically answered a lot of questions I had about how ISIS could ever justify their actions, and the previous article answered questions of how any woman could ever be drawn in)
The Islamic State’s Christian and Yizidi Sex Slaves
The Unthinkable (about Yemen)
And let’s not forget Boko Haram and other such rampant evil and persecution of His people, either.

Three places you can give to fight ISIS:
Barnabas fund: Operation Safe Havens
Preemptive Love Coalition (the website makes it seem like “just” heart surgery – but they do a lot more than that, evidenced by their Facebook and Instagram!)
Hope Builders International

Youth Orchestra of the Middle East – 2010

Last year was the first ever Youth Orchestra of the Middle East (YOME). For me, anyway, it had a completely different feel this year than last year. Maybe it was because I was first oboe. Maybe it was because we played such a wide range of music. Maybe it was because of the people I was with. Maybe it was because of the way God led our conversations. Maybe it was because I was different this year.
I know I complained too much last year, so it was one of my resolutions not to complain about it this year – whether it was complaining about the music, teaching styles, people, food, whatever. I reminded myself each day to be joyful. And by God’s grace, I think I was much more joyful this year.

YOME began after Church on April 2. Mr. Curtis, the oboe tutor, had me playing first oboe that day, and that’s how it stayed (which made me both happy and terrified!). We had a quick introduction to the teachers and course, then started off sight-reading. I was quite happy with the way my sight-reading went – my timing and counting has gotten so much better since last year. I was still really shy about coming in, but throughout the week that changed as I became more comfortable with the music, and trusted my counting and the conductor, Mr. Currie, more.

April 3rd we started off with sectionals. We worked through all of the pieces before our second sectional was over, and so part of the second sectional was spent in individual practice (a relief from last year, when we had no time on our own!). After lunch we had two full orchestra rehearsals, with a break in between. I don’t remember much else from that day – no exciting conversations or notable events, just practice.

April 4th was Easter. We got up to go to the sunrise service on the beach. Mr. Welkner spoke about seeking the living among the dead, and we sang a lot, then played on the beach for a while. After a quick stop at the Neals daddy drove me over to Dubai College. I took a box of Resurrection rolls with me, and after the oboe sectional I gave one to the oboe tutor and other oboist, explaining their meaning. That led to a discussion on world religions, which only confirmed the fact that the devil has no stories.
Overall it was a very interesting day. I became frustrated and did poorly in full orchestra. After lunch Lucy and I played on the pianos in a practice room. Then we had some individual practice time. But the next break is where it became very interesting. We discussed lent, being a good Christian, and other holidays, like Christmas and Halloween.
We had full orchestra after that and I failed miserably… it ruined what little false pride I had…

April 5th I realized that there were at least 2 other Christians on campus, which was refreshing in the midst of all of the swearing and other worldly things. I don’t think I ever remember a time during which I’ve felt more different from the people around me than this week.
We had a pizza dinner after a long day of sectionals and orchestra. I played foosball and helped with a game of Chess, but other than that nothing exciting happened… until I was waiting for mom to come pick me up. A group of us were standing outside waiting for our rides. The only person of note was Ewan, a bassoonist. One guy came up to us and asked “the great question of our generation – which came first, the chicken or the egg?” Of course, I said the chicken, but everyone else said the egg, so it led to a discussion on evolution, which died away quite quickly.

April 6th. Rehearsals went well. we had a full woodwind rehearsal which was a blast. I think it was this day but it may have been another day, but the percussion teacher led it and gave us a long speech about feeling the rhythm. It sounded kind of strange most of the time, but he explained that he was “as serious as a heart attack.”
We had an early lunch and then got ready to head out to Abu Dhabi to watch a London Symphony Orchestra rehearsal. Before we left I finally got to talk with Mr. Szymanek, a composer who was there. One of the pieces we were playing was a commission, and he wrote it – and we played the world premiere. He’s so very kind, and his tips on composition were most helpful.
After a long bus ride, we finally arrived in Abu Dhabi and journeyed into Emirates Palace – through the lobby and part the guests see, not the rag-tag backstage we were in last year. LSO was practicing, among other things, the symphonic dances from West Side Story. It was encouraging for me to see that even the professionals can’t always play it perfectly…
Back on the bus I was going to sit with my friend Charmaine but Ewan came up to me and said “So you don’t believe in evolution, but do you believe in magic?” He was referring to card tricks, because he, Mark, and Braxton were all doing card tricks. I said no, but plopped down right in front of him. Charmaine sat across from me. Behind her was Keenan (important later). I talked a bit more about evolution with Ewan, and told him I had a few articles I wanted to send him. We lapsed into teasing, card tricks, and humming for a time, but then Ewan asked to see my Bible. I handed it to him and he flipped through it for a few minutes before holding it up and saying “so, tell me the story.”
Charmaine and I quickly went through from Creation, the fall, the promise, and the fulfillment. When we finished, Keenan started bringing up different arguments against Christianity. Ewan had questions of his own as well, so for the next hour and a half we did our best to answer them according to scripture. Braxton joined in defending scripture.
As we pulled into the parking lot in Dubai College, Braxton, Charmaine, and I put our heads together and in more quiet tones reminded each other that it’s not us but the Spirit who convicts – we’re just the messengers.

Wednesday the seventh we didn’t go in until noon, but then we had three relaxed rehearsals followed by some time to hang out. Charmaine and I played foosball and sang Les Miserables. Then we had to be backstage and ready to go. The first concert went pretty well. We screwed up Party Piece pretty badly, but other than that there weren’t any major issues.

The 8th we spent the morning at the Cousino’s house, swimming and eating lunch. We got to Dubai College about 12:45 and then loaded up on the bus. Braxton, Mark, Charmaine, Keenan and I sat near each other again, and the three of us Christians were praying for more opportunities to share Christ with them, but we spent the ride doing card tricks, and talking about vaccines, Boy Scouts, and strange instruments.
At Emirates Palace we had a final practice, changed, ate dinner, had a photoshoot, then headed back upstairs for about an hour. Ewan, William, and another boy were in the elevator, providing “elevator entertainment” for everyone who entered – William would push the buttons, the other boy would play the violin, and Ewan would do a card trick.
Then we tuned up and went downstairs to wait in the wings. The first half went very smoothly, except people clapped at all the wrong times… near the end of intermission we were waiting in the hallway talking about glass instruments. The second half went pretty well, then we rushed upstairs to pack up and say farewells. I wasn’t taking the bus home, so I went down to the auditorium and found my family and we went home – getting home at about 12 instead of the 1:30 the bus arrived at the college.

I’m quite glad to have time back now, but I will miss playing a lot, fellowshipping, and sharing the gospel. I know it sounds really silly but I think the biggest thing that I learned musically was just realizing how much better it sound when you actually play articulations as written. It doesn’t make a big difference when it’s just one of you, but when a whole orchestra changes articulation, it sounds so different. I also have come to think of rhythm in a completely different way, thanks to Mr. Malanga.
Overall it was a good time musically and relationally – and I’m so thankful for all of the chances I had to share the gospel.

For anyone who’s interested, these are the pieces we played:
The Emirati National Anthem (which is a really splendid anthem, though not very Arabian… our arrangement was very different from this, though).
Hungarian March – Berlioz
L’Arlisienne Suite No.2 – Bizet (this was my second favorite, especially the Menuet) (Two sections, here and here)
Fatma’s Journey – Szymanek (this was my favorite)
Party Piece – Bennet
Our Town – Copland (this was my third favorite. We played a much longer version of it but I can’t seem to find it anywhere).
Little Suite No. 2 – Arnold
— much clapping and bowing and sitting and standing then sitting again then standing again…. —
Encore – Broadway Tonight! – arr. Chase (we had so much fun playing this one… )


What Have I to Complain About?

I’m sitting here, on a cool, beautiful Tuesday morning, after just finishing my school work and some music practice. I’m working on the computer, Les Miserables is playing in the background, and later mom, Cait, and I will read together, and I’ll probably write some. From time to time, I cough or sniffle. I have a cold that’s been bugging me for almost a week now.
And to be honest, I often complain about it.

Then I click a link… and go to Mr. Phillip’s blog. Suddenly I am ashamed I spent almost 10 dollars on pretty boxes for organizing my craft supplies. I’m ashamed that I’m complaining about a stuffy nose and half of a voice when there are people in Haiti who have no family. No home. No clean water (while I sit here and drink 3 liters of it every day).
They have no hope, but for the gospel of Jesus Christ.
For which I am thankful, and it helps me see God’s sovereignty in the earthquake in Haiti: so that His gospel could go out.  (Added later – As I prayed for Haiti as I got ready for bed at night, I prayed that God might use Haiti as an example to nations like the US that are strong physically but dying spiritually – I pray that Haiti will challenge us to seek the Lord and engage in spiritual reformation. A great comfort in reading about Haiti is knowing that there are people there who are not only bringing the gospel, but making disciples and engaging in reformation.  It is so exciting to see God getting the glory, even in this devastation!)
Other than Rescue Haiti’s Children, we follow only one other Christian team down there, a team of mostly doctors who is in Haiti to help.

I wish I could go. I wish we could adopt. I wish I could hold one of these hurting children in my arms – hold them close, cuddle them, comfort them.

There are two things I can do, though – the first is to pray. The second, is to put aside my long list of books I want to buy, the new track pants I’d like, the MIDI interface I can wait to get, and to take my piano lesson earnings and send them to Haiti – to further the spread of the gospel there.

You can donate to Rescue Haiti’s Children here.
Also, look here and here – all proceedings are going to Haiti.

So, I invite you to give. And if you can’t give monetarily, give of time spent in prayer for the people of Haiti, and for the believers (and unbelievers) who are there helping them.
We have so much beyond what we need. I think of 1 John 3, when John writes, “By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’ s love abide in him?”


The Gospel In Sugar Cookies

So, you have a small group Christmas party coming up.
With a homemade gift exchange.
And there are girls in your group who wouldn’t be allowed to take home certain Bible verses or an out-right version of the gospel.
So what do you do?

Make sugar cookies.

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
Mix together in a mixing bowl

Add 1 egg and 1 tablespoon of vanilla.
Once that is beaten together, add 3 cups of flour one cup at a time, finishing with 2 teaspoons of baking powder.
Flour the counter and roll out.
Place cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 6-7 minutes at 400 F.

But… these weren’t just any sugar cookies.
All men and women are sinful because we rebelled against the commands God gave us and made ourselves lord of our lives.

Our sin deserves God’s wrath, and this impending wrath broke our relationship with God. His justice would be delivered for our sin – the wrath of the Almighty, greater and more powerful than our deepest and most fearful imaginings.

BUT because He is also merciful, God provided a way that He could be the Just and Justifier – He provided someone else to be punished for our sin – His own Son bore our sin and took the wrath of God for it. He took our punishment that we might be right with God.

Jesus was born in a small town, as had been prophesied many years before.

A star and angels proclaimed His birth and led people to where He was born, joyfully proclaiming that the Savior had come.

Shepherds were some of these people that came to see Jesus. They were social outcasts, and this shows that God loves even those society looks down on.
The sheep also represents why Jesus came. Instead of us dying, Jesus took our place and died on a cross and received God’s wrath for our sins. He was the lamb that died in our place, like the ram died in place of Abraham’s son.
But Jesus didn’t stay dead – to show that God is powerful over death, God raised His son from the dead three days later.

Life without Jesus is like this, because there’s a hole in the middle of your heart – nothing satisfies.
Until we believe in our hearts that Jesus is Lord and accept His death as payment for our sins and believe that He rose from the dead; if we call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved…

God will fill the hole in our heart with His love and forgiveness and heal our brokenness, changing our lives forever.

– Kyleigh


I’m all packed for India.


We go to the airport in 16 hours and 20 minutes.

I hope I sleep tonight… I’m getting really excited but also quite nervous. God is in control.

please be praying for our team of 20.

Things you can pray for:
– That no one would get sick in any way! This is probably what’s bugging me most right now, I get sick really easily when I’m working and get overheated with very little sleep… which the conditions there will probably be like.
– Unity for the team. The majority of the people who are going are either really close or barely know each other at all. It’s hard to work together unless we can put down any hidden biases and serve each other while serving the Indian Church.
– That we will be lights and show God’s love even though we don’t speak the language!
– Patience and safety. Being around people all day drives me batty, and this will be a real challenge.

See you after India!

Surge preparation

Wow… this weekend was really busy. I’ll sum up best I can without getting you lost in all the confusion going on in my mind.

Friday was a very long day… to put it simply.
After Church we had a Surge training meeting for India, which was somewhat long but very good and definitely removed quite a lot of the worry I had (though all the talk of Malaria made it worse!) It was also nice to see who all was going, we’d only heard bits and rumors before then, this was the first group gathering where we could really see who all was going.
Then after Surge we went to Volleyball (which was pretty bleh… for various reasons).
Then we had Submerge. At first it was going really awfully, things weren’t cooperating, people were telling me to do things I didn’t quite understand how to do, I was getting lost when we were playing with just the guitars… basically got to the point where I was ready to cry. Then Mr. Richard arrived, and everyone except the guitarists went to go work on harmonies… Mr. Richard got out his guitar and we started working on bringing all 3 of us to the same level (Mitch is amazing on guitar and bass, Eli is pretty good but unsure of himself when it comes to being the only lead guitar, and me… well, it’s awfully hard to pick out strumming patterns without a drum! And we all play in different styles…). Probably the best thing I heard that night was “And we are going to work on strumming patterns.”
Anyway, it ended up being a pretty good night.

Saturday we went shopping for clothes for Surge and went out for Indian food (YUMMY!).
Today mom and I went to get a second pair of glasses for me just in case my pair broke on the trip… they’re not ready yet, but when they are I’ll have trouble deciding which pair will be my backup!

Things you can pray for for Surge:
– That no one would get sick in any way! This is probably what’s bugging me most right now, I get sick really easily when I’m working and get overheated with very little sleep… which the conditions there will probably be like.
– Unity for the team. The majority of the people who are going are either really close or barely know each other at all. It’s hard to work together unless we can put down any hidden biases and serve each other while serving the orphanage.
– That we will be lights!